Can materialistic science answer life’s big questions? |317|

Well you need to realise that even ISIS believe in a God but with somewhat different laws as compared with mainstream Islam, and further removed from Christianity. My point is that a non-believer can perfectly rationally become angry with a God that he doesn't believe in, because that is just a shorthand for being angry with the set of ideas that a particular conception of God contains.

David
It's a big issue and I feel stereotyped as a conservative believer, which I don't believe is representative of my open-mindedness on the subjects Skeptiko discusses. However as you've asked, anger at a God one doesn't believe in simply doesn't add up. Is it that there's an area of doubt and if God does exist we should be pissed off at him for allowing it to happen (a legitimate if uninformed response from a Christian perspective), or is to prove religious views of God are inadequate and there's nothing to see (a study of nothing about nothing as Dawkins' has said of theology), or should the person respond in the only permissible way for a materialist, and say these things happen and he was an unfortunate victim of nature and nurture and we should all move swiftly on?

In addition because I believe the Catholic world view accommodates such things as a failure of morality, it should not imply that I'm supporting other Christian sects - I'm thinking particularly of fundamentalist groups who think it's legitimate to kill abortion workers - or Muslim beliefs because we notionally share the idea of a deity. I'm not answerable for every nut with a gun, and it seems unclear whether he was religiously motivated, sexually confused or plain barking mad. Generally speaking Catholics do not run into crowded night clubs shouting Christ is King and murdering innocent bystanders. Until they do I feel no reason to conflate the murderer's beliefs with my own. Saying "it's all the same" is the kind of bigotry that would not be allowed in any other arena.

(continued...) I don't accept that my views are the result of sloppy thinking or a lack of realism. Rupert Sheldrake is viewed among proponents as a fearless and intelligent voice on the subject of psi in biology, and happens to be a practising Christian, and Bernardo Kastrup has softened his stance on the value of faith as a response to the universe. If people find my views incredible I would point to some of the other acts of faith that pass unnoticed, such as the fact that we are the puppet of genes, or that we live in a Matrix style hologram, or we are but one manifestation of a myriad of universes the evidence for which is completely non-existent.

I was asked why casual sex was anything other than unmitigated pleasure, and I offered the view that before chemical intervention (the consequences of which are still unknown in the wider environment), indulgence in such activities stood a significant chance of pregnancy (along with other hazards). For a materialist who views the human condition as one of an organism responding to a stimulus, it's no big deal. Flooding the water system with hormones or aborting the resulting organisms of a sex act are the inevitable result of a lack of free will and entirely unremarkable. For anyone who is compelled by a universal mind, neuroplasticity, psi effects, the survival of consciousness, reproduction on a semi-casual basis may be a very big deal and offer them pause for thought.

I fail to see why pointing out the bleeding obvious should mark me down as a reactionary handing out lofty edicts to moral inferiors.
 
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It's a big issue and I feel stereotyped as a conservative believer, which I don't believe is representative of my open-mindedness on the subjects Skeptiko discusses. However as you've asked, anger at a God one doesn't believe in simply doesn't add up. Is it that there's an area of doubt and if God does exist we should be pissed off at him for allowing it to happen (a legitimate if uninformed response from a Christian perspective), or is to prove religious views of God are inadequate and there's nothing to see (a study of nothing about nothing as Dawkins' has said of theology), or should the person respond in the only permissible way for a materialist, and say these things happen and he was an unfortunate victim of nature and nurture and we should all move swiftly on?
I suppose there are two questions here.

1) Is there a God?

2) Is the kind of God that X believes in worthy of belief?

My point is that anger at God is really a shorthand that someone who answers NO to Q1 may use to express anger at particular interpretation of God.

A person who answers YES to Q1 might express anger at a particular interpretation of God.

More generally, my point was that it is unfair to be scornful of someone because of the form of words they chose to use, and to ignore the real meaning. Gays can look back at an awful history of persecution, some of which continues to this day in places controlled by ISIS, and related groups.

For what it is worth, I'd probably answer "Don't know" to Q1, and my answer to Q2 would vary depending on X.

David
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

Examine the consequences and work backwards. If the result of sex is likely to be a child - as it was for millennia and in most places still is today - and you believe the human you've created deserves the best experience you can offer them, the natural conclusion is the sexual act is best performed within agreed social structures.

Religious sexual narratives tend to emphasise this point. I don't view sex as a uniquely moral minefield, much as some religious advocates and their critics want to elevate it to that position, I think it's one of variety of temptations to which humans are prone, and which they'll do incredible moral gymnastics to uphold, even while knowing it's the most egregious BS.
Gay sex doesn't result in children, but anyway it seems entirely plausible we could have perfect birth control for the rest of us within the decade. And, of course, having an afterlife makes the argument against abortion trickier?

I guess what I'm trying to understand is if you have adults having consensual sex, and there was 0% chance of pregnancy, is it still immoral if done solely for pleasure? Because if the answer is "yes" I think this runs into a few problems:

-Plato's argument that Good and Evil cannot be defined by a deity's preference.

-Naturalistic Fallacy. Descriptions of nature - such as bodies being designed for reproduction - cannot lead to moral conclusions. Now this doesn't preclude the argument that sex that risks reproduction is immoral unless one is able and willing to bring a child to term and care for it until adulthood, but in the case where there's 0% chance of reproduction simply pointing to the seeming original purpose of sexual activity would not enable us to draw any moral conclusions.

There's also the Catch-22 of having desire in the first place. We can mitigate our desires to some extent but they are not really choices.
 
I suppose there are two questions here.

1) Is there a God?

2) Is the kind of God that X believes in worthy of belief?

My point is that anger at God is really a shorthand that someone who answers NO to Q1 may use to express anger at particular interpretation of God.
Well, you've expressed your interpretation, and that's fair enough.

I'd interpret things differently.

To express anger at a particular concept of God is really to express anger at one's own thoughts, to hold an idea and find it so unsatisfactory that it causes anger. In this respect, it is a form of self-hatred. The words used may make it seem that the anger is directed outward, but it is first and foremost an inward anger, a self-destructive force. I'm willing to state things in these terms as it describes where I was positioned at some stage.
 
Gay sex doesn't result in children, but anyway it seems entirely plausible we could have perfect birth control for the rest of us within the decade. And, of course, having an afterlife makes the argument against abortion trickier?

I guess what I'm trying to understand is if you have adults having consensual sex, and there was 0% chance of pregnancy, is it still immoral if done solely for pleasure? Because if the answer is "yes" I think this runs into a few problems:

-Plato's argument that Good and Evil cannot be defined by a deity's preference.

-Naturalistic Fallacy. Descriptions of nature - such as bodies being designed for reproduction - cannot lead to moral conclusions. Now this doesn't preclude the argument that sex that risks reproduction is immoral unless one is able and willing to bring a child to term and care for it until adulthood, but in the case where there's 0% chance of reproduction simply pointing to the seeming original purpose of sexual activity would not enable us to draw any moral conclusions.

There's also the Catch-22 of having desire in the first place. We can mitigate our desires to some extent but they are not really choices.
The subject of gay sex is a side show in the much wider topic of sexual morality, and the infinitely larger subject of morality as a whole. Personally I don't care whether men have penetrative sex with one another, but I wonder about the psychological situation of people who have multiple partners for casual sex, whatever their orientation. From my own experience I think casual sexual encounters were a cover for other needs, particular a deep seated search for love I wasn't getting that almost certainly had its roots in childhood. Obviously I can't extrapolate that this holds for everyone else who sleeps around, but my feeling is it plays a significant part. If so, what's the remedy, more sex or more love? If you find love, how is your partner going to feel about your continued pursuit of multiple sexual partners for personal gratification? How would you feel about theirs?

Sex carries deeply seated taboos, or why wouldn't men publicly masturbate when they see an attractive woman? They're hurting no one, no one has to look and they're reducing any risk of rape. They do not because sexual mores operate at a deeper level than society's laws, and many carry a sense of shame. Is this simply nurture? I don't know but I sense not.

At the risk of presenting a Christian view of marriage and inciting a riot, the vows explicitly say it is for the rearing of children. If people don't agree there is absolutely no necessity for a church wedding. People need to pose fewer abstract hypotheses and indulge in a little more honest introspection about their motives. As far as I'm aware the "original purpose of sexual activity" hasn't changed.There have been plenty of gurus offering enlightenment alongside as many material toys and as much sex as you can handle. They drove gold Rolls Royces and wanted to see the colour of your money before entry.
 
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To express anger at a particular concept of God is really to express anger at one's own thoughts, to hold an idea and find it so unsatisfactory that it causes anger. In this respect, it is a form of self-hatred. The words used may make it seem that the anger is directed outward, but it is first and foremost an inward anger, a self-destructive force. I'm willing to state things in these terms as it describes where I was positioned at some stage.
I agree, and would ask what are the consoling features of the alternatives?
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

Obviously I can't extrapolate that this holds for everyone else who sleeps around
Glad you recognize this.

If so, what's the remedy, more sex or more love? If you find love, how is your partner going to feel about your continued pursuit of multiple sexual partners for personal gratification? How would you feel about theirs?
Depends on the persons in that particular relationship. It seems swingers and people with open marriages are fine with it?

Sex carries deeply seated taboos, or why wouldn't men publicly masturbate when they see an attractive woman? They're hurting no one, no one has to look and they're reducing any risk of rape.
I think most societies recognize psychic harm along with public disturbances. But public sexual acts seem to be of a different category, in my mind, than private engagements (again involving consenting adults).

hey do not because sexual mores operate at a deeper level than society's laws, and many carry a sense of shame. Is this simply nurture? I don't know but I sense not.
On a mundane level I'd suspect it has to do with a variety of historical facts relating to having enough people to work the fields, transference of property through bloodlines, controlling women, etc.

Supernatural considerations....who knows? Perhaps Eros is the way to escape the Demiurge and thus the shame is another bar of the cage.

I'd be curious about what anthropology tell us about whether the sense of shame is universal.

At the risk of presenting a Christian view of marriage and inciting a riot, the vows explicitly say it is for the rearing of children. If people don't agree there is absolutely no necessity for a church wedding.
Is there just a singular Christian view of marriage? What vows are you referring to?

People need to pose fewer abstract hypotheses and indulge in a little more honest introspection about their motives.
Sure, but this is a blade that cuts everyone. And it think it affects religious people as much as, if not more, than it affects those who question religion. Seems to me many people want something to be true because it conforms with their scripture. This then leads to, for example, anecdotes about particular cases as proof that, for example, pursuit of sexual pleasure is inherently destructive.

As far as I'm aware the "original purpose of sexual activity" hasn't changed.
I think you could parse "original purpose" in different ways. One could argue procreation is a secondary effect rather than the inherent purpose.

There have been plenty of gurus offering enlightenment alongside as many material toys and as much sex as you can handle. They drove gold Rolls Royces and wanted to see the colour of your money before entry.
I suspect the same is true of people who claimed consensual sex between adults was wrong or there was something shameful in sexual activity disconnected from procreation. Looking at history it seems such persons have done worse than rip people off?
 
Glad you recognize this.



Depends on the persons in that particular relationship. It seems swingers and people with open marriages are fine with it?



I think most societies recognize psychic harm along with public disturbances. But public sexual acts seem to be of a different category, in my mind, than private engagements (again involving consenting adults).



On a mundane level I'd suspect it has to do with a variety of historical facts relating to having enough people to work the fields, transference of property through bloodlines, controlling women, etc.

Supernatural considerations....who knows? Perhaps Eros is the way to escape the Demiurge and thus the shame is another bar of the cage.

I'd be curious about what anthropology tell us about whether the sense of shame is universal.



Is there just a singular Christian view of marriage? What vows are you referring to?



Sure, but this is a blade that cuts everyone. And it think it affects religious people as much as, if not more, than it affects those who question religion. Seems to me many people want something to be true because it conforms with their scripture. This then leads to, for example, anecdotes about particular cases as proof that, for example, pursuit of sexual pleasure is inherently destructive.



I think you could parse "original purpose" in different ways. One could argue procreation is a secondary effect rather than the inherent purpose.



I suspect the same is true of people who claimed consensual sex between adults was wrong or there was something shameful in sexual activity disconnected from procreation. Looking at history it seems such persons have done worse than rip people off?
All of which is removed from the question in the title, can materialistic science answer life's big questions?
 
All of which is removed from the question in the title, can materialistic science answer life's big questions?
Yep. But I'm not sure the remit of "materialistic science" was ever to answer "life's big questions" (as defined by Alex).

Has religion or spirituality or philosophy found answers?
 
Yep. But I'm not sure the remit of "materialistic science" was ever to answer "life's big questions" (as defined by Alex).

Has religion or spirituality or philosophy found answers?
I think something like philosophy or spirituality is unavoidable for most thinking people, if only because the alternatives are so unthinkable. Getting ones brains fucked out by strangers while buying the latest Chinese made, Western designed electronics or training shoes may be paradise for some but it doesn't float my boat. Nor does the promise that medical science will fix all our woes shortly after the lifetime of any living person make me jump for joy.

Given that my internal world is so far in excess of that promised by the gatekeepers of the physical world in range, depth and aspiration, spirituality is the only discipline that speaks to it in any meaningful way. If nothing else it points to the yawning gap currently filled by consumption as the impoverished thing it is.
 
I'd add that some form of spirituality isn't simply a response or antidote in reaction to modern society, but can also be a natural state for some, perhaps even most people. It is hard to gauge what a so-called natural state would be, when we are bombarded from our earliest years with messages promoting the mainstream culture, television, advertising, education, and the workplace all doing their best to drown out our inner life and substitute something else in its place.
 
There's also the Catch-22 of having desire in the first place. We can mitigate our desires to some extent but they are not really choices.
It is a truism in mysticism that desires may be overcome. This is not an argument from science or reason. But any number of people within a large variety of traditions have demonstrated their transformation. Whether one accepts the numerous reports may depend on one's biases and experiences.

There are other traditions such as some forms of tantra where desires are harnessed for transformation. But this is acknowledged as a more difficult path.

In terms of the major point of this thread - the problem of suffering. In moments of acute suffering, it certainly feels unbearable. If it is seen as meaningless, that is horrific. The possibility of considering other perspectives depends on one's experiences and openness to other testimonies (e.g. NDE reports).
 
My point is that a non-believer can perfectly rationally become angry with a God that he doesn't believe in, because that is just a shorthand for being angry with the set of ideas that a particular conception of God contains.
I don't know...to me, when someone who does not hold a particular belief, first erects a sort of effigy of it, then expresses anger towards it...that looks like a type of mocking. Their effigy can not be anything but shallow, and their anger is sarcastic and derisive.

It isn't hard to express anger at belief sets without taking a mocking, derisive tone. But anger makes people want to lash out, and mocking is one way to do that.
 
My apologies in that case.
No problem. I should take more time to clearly state my positions in discussions on this forum, but I'm often typing my responses hurriedly into my mobile browser while on break at work(like I am doing right now), a habit I am going to have to break(but not yet).

I am definitely not a materialist. Having dropped that load of hogwash, I discovered I didn't know what to pick up in it's place. Eventually I realized that I didn't actually have to pick up anything in it's place. So I haven't. :)
 
My feeling is that many of these questions revolve around the same thing: free will.
There are two linked issues here. Firstly, why free will does or ought to entail the freedom to choose evil, when it apparently doesn't (nor do we seem to think it ought to) entail the freedom to choose to fly into the air unaided like a bird, or to know anything that we want to, or to create any object that we want to out of nothing. Secondly, why, even if it *does* entail the freedom to choose evil, a good and omnipotent God would preference (by choosing not to intervene) the freedom of an evildoer to commit harm over the freedom of an innocent from harm.
 
Maybe we sit back with a few friends drinking a heavenly beer (can't think of a more reasonable equivalent) and say, "Gosh that was a really challenging life - mother beat me, and I fell ill, and, and and .....! Still after a really difficult life, I get back here and feel great!
OK, but we put in a hard day's work because we need to - otherwise, unless we are lucky, we cannot survive. What "need" is there to submit to a material life if/when we are already in heaven? Why not just drink "heavenly beers" and be done with it?
 
The mistake in my opinion, is to desire God on a human scale, a comfort zone deity who restricts himself to events well within our limits and leaves us only with a smile on our faces. Human nature does not restrict itself to niceness, nor does the natural world of predatory animals and stormy seas. Neither is human life relentlessly unbearable, though it can come close to it at times, but tends to a full range of emotional responses and beyond.
This seems to me to be a rejection of God's omnibenevolence (by a reasonable definition of that term) i.e. God doesn't care that sometimes (often, even), things are going to be particularly "not nice" for His creatures.
 
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